A couple of weeks ago I wrote about feeling disconnected as school began again, and that resonated with many people in my global PLN. And while I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to participate in Twitter or the other ways I connect with the folks I know all over the world, I’ve been watching and observing something else happen more locally.
A couple of our new instructional coaches began a private group for our school system on Yammer.com, a Twitter-like app that allows only a certain DOMAIN to participate–thus, the only people who CAN join are ones who have our school domain as part of their address. The other thing that is interesting is that you have to be invited to join by a current member, so the growth of it has been interesting to observe.
I joined August 16, a day or so after it had been created. People are joining daily, 1 or 2 or 3, still, a month later. We have principals, school nurses, secretaries, systems engineers, tech support folks, teaching assistants, and a various conglomeration of teachers at all levels and through most subjects who have joined. There are now at least 21 different group conversations begun and we have possibly a sixth of our teaching population present. Many of us who are familiar with or use Twitter are following everyone who joins, and attempting to engage people in conversations. It’s been an interesting ride.
I heard someone say Yammer had gone viral in our system. I don’t agree with that, and here’s why–the folks actually talking on Yammer are folks who use Twitter, mostly. The people who have the most messages (and Yammer counts them, just as Twitter does Tweets) are the Twitterers in our county, mostly. The posts that these folks make come straight from our Twitterverse, mostly. (@BeckyFisher73 figured out how to Tweet and send it to Yammer, so a couple of people do that regularly. I just copy and paste, attributing it to my Twitter buddy in hopes others here will start following that person on Twitter.)
Here’s the data to support my assertion that it has NOT “gone viral.” If you sort by messages sent, the top six senders are Twitterers, and I believe most of us (yep, I’m one of those six) are working to model professional networking through a social networking site and engage other people. If you look at all of the people who have sent more than TEN messages (and that’s a small number for a whole month, I believe), we have 31 folks to of the 236 who have done so. If we look at those 31, at least 17 of those people Tweet, so are familiar with and know how to use social networking tools to develop a PLN. Looking at the groups people have created for specialized conversations, only 3 groups have more messages in a month than members–so most groups don’t even average getting a message a day. One group, the third grade group averages almost 2 messages a day, and the Ed Tech group is the largest, at 58 members (but only has 28 messages).
However, while the prolific talkers are mostly Twitterers, (obviously folks who seek out conversations), there ARE others who are conversing, sharing, asking, and participating. There’s no way to tell how many are lurking and reading, not actively engaging in the conversations right now. The conversation topics people are engaging in include specific grade level conversations, the Daily Five, Elementary Math, Responsive Classrooms, Being a Writer/Making Meaning, Art and Art-Infused Classrooms, Expeditionary Learning, Ed Tech and a visionary group called Envision ACPS. People are connecting across schools, conversations are happening about classrooms and instruction and homework policies, and teachers and principals are engaging(along with our Superintendent) in talk about our work.
We have 292 people who have joined a social networking site for professional networking, (albeit a closed one.) That’s more people than the 50 or so Twitterers in our division could have enticed to join one in a month, I think. That’s more than our Instructional coaches (the 10 or so we have for our 26 or so schools) by themselves could have gotten to join a social networking site, I think.
The conversations about teaching and learning aren’t just happening within a school anymore. They’re happening across schools and across our 750 square miles of rural county. We have people in all of our schools looking for conversations, starting them, asking questions and finding and making connections through an online networking site.
That’s pretty cool for a month of activity in a school system, don’t you think?